In an effort to encourage the married folks, Amber and I have decided to fight the good fight a bit more publicly. To that end, we started writing letters to each other on Mondays.
After our first round, Scott and Joy Bennett agreed to join in. Scott suggested that this week’s letters address our “secret fantasies… about the future” and I immediately jumped on the idea, thinking that an exercise in projection might reveal a thing or two. Amber and I decided to write our letters as if we were thirty-four years into the future (obligatory nod to the Sage). After you read this letter, check out Amber’s. Then MAKE SURE to visit Joy and Scott and see what they offered!
I remember thirty-four like it was yesterday. I sat at that old wrought iron table outside writing an email to someone. I can’t quite remember the addressee now because at sixty-eight you learn to forget a thing or two. In any event, I was watching the boys climb the wood pile when you came out and told me that you were heading to Wal-Mart for some eggs or something. It was a relatively mild day—for January that is—and you were wearing my fleece jacket. I asked you whether you really intended to wear my fleece jacket, and you told me not to worry. “I’m not going to roll around in spaghetti sauce,” you said. Then you offered a wry smile and climbed into the car.
You’ve always known how to put me in my place. I’ve always loved it.
When we were in our thirties, I dreamed about being in our sixties. I fantasized of a quiet house, relative peace and quiet. I figured an empty nest would mean waking to a late alarm clock, listening to Miles Davis records, cooking egg-beater omelets, and back porch bird watching. I figured we would have grown up, slowed down. But the truth is, you like Nirvana more today than you did as a teenager—you’ve now grown to admit that you’ve always had a crush on Kurt Cobain. I haven’t outgrown a good waffle with powdered sugar and Canadian maple syrup, either. We still prefer listening to the college kids play bluegrass at the Farmer’s Market to bird watching. Cardinals and wood ducks are glorious, but not as glorious as a fiddle in the hands of bold young woman.
When I was in my thirties, I thought maturity meant growing up, changing tastes. Now I think that maturity means remembering how to stay young, how to savor the flavors of youth. We’ve figured that out, I think. Sometimes I think that we’re just better versions of who we were back then.
I also reckon that I have less to say these days. When I was in my thirties, I used to think that I would ooze marital wisdom in my sixties. Now, the only wisdom I can muster is to say that we’re all broken. But the beauty is, you and I like each other’s brand of broken. In our sixties, we don’t feel obligated to fix each other. That’s what good grace does. It teaches you to suffer the poor in spirit, to suffer your spouse. So now, we speak less and pray more. We’ve found that to be the best advice to give young couples.
I hope that we have another twenty years together, but that’s not likely. I should probably tell you now that I’ve always liked you. I should tell you that I wouldn’t trade the difficulty of the early years for the freedom of the later ones. I should tell you that morning coffee with you has always been the best part of my day. And I should tell you to wear my fleeces a bit more. Leave the smell of your perfume on them. I won’t immediately run them through the wash like I used to. Instead, I’ll let the scent linger, let it rise like the prayers of a mystic, like the incense of two co-mingled lives well lived.
Here’s to Advil and Patty Griffin,
Now it’s your turn. Write a letter to your spouse. You don’t have to publish it online (but if you do drop back in and leave a link). You might just hand write it and give it to her/him over dinner or before bed. Marriage is a tough thing. Fight hard to preserve yours.